Pakistan is a country in South Asia located on the Oman Sea coast. It has an amazing landscape interspersed with forts and monuments, picturesque mountains, snow-capped peaks and lakes, green valleys, and much more. More metropolitan cities are alive on the other side of the spectrum. These features give Pakistan a fascinating mix of modern city living, as well as traditional lifestyles. As one of the most populous countries in the world, it’s no surprise that it has a colourful cultural setting. Given that money is an important means of achieving higher standards of living, it makes sense that I talk about salaries in this country to help you make an informed decision.
How much can you expect to make working in Pakistan? Well, the average gross salary of a person working in Pakistan is $611/month or $7,330/year, while the average hourly rate is $3.52. After taxes, this figure comes down to about $222/month. Salaries differ between locations, professions, employer, and an employee’s qualifications. You’ll find the highest salaries in the cities of Karachi, Lahore, Faisalabad, and Rawalpindi.
Pakistan has shown considerable economic progress since its independence. The economy is currently undergoing liberalisation, which involves privatising many government sectors in the hopes of attracting foreign investors. For this reason, expats moving here will be charmed by the opportunities the current economy provides for them. The salaries offered to foreigners may not be as high as those in Western European countries, but it will provide a good standard of living given the low cost of living in Pakistan. Before relocating to this part of the world, take a look at this guide as it covers all the relevant information you’ll need to know about working and living in Pakistan.
Average Salary in Pakistan
Although the national average salary is a great guide, it’s a bit too wide. If you’re seeking employment in Pakistan, it would be best to check out salaries of individual professions you’re qualified for and passionate about. Here are some common jobs in Pakistan, along with their average annual gross salaries to get you started:
- Accountant – $4,919
- Architect – $6,122
- CAD drafter – $5,401
- Cashier – $3,874
- Chef – $5,852
- CEO – $16,461
- CFO– $15,206
- Computer technician – $5,360
- Dentist – $16,700
- Developer/programmer – $6,000
- Engineer – $6,122
- General Manager – $12,405
- Graphic designer – $4,931
- HRM – $9,942
- Internal auditor – $7,118
- Lawyer – $10,065
- Nurse – $5,671
- Photographer – $4,977
- Receptionist – $4,591
- Sales representative – $4,403
The economy in this country has, for a long time, emerged as a semi-industrialised one, depending mainly on agriculture, food production, and textiles. However, recent years have seen a shift in technological diversification. The GDP has gradually been on the rise and the country has improved in its provision of security and energy.
The job market
Pakistan has recently experienced an economic boom and is about to develop into a major Asia investment hub. It’s one of the largest producers of natural commodities with exports forming a major part of the economy. The main industries, which offer the most opportunities for foreigners, are textile manufacturing, construction, tourism, electricity, and technology. The country is also home to several multinational companies that employ a large number of foreigners, including Procter & Gamble, IBM, Unilever, GlaxoSmithKline, Shell, Allied Bank, and Siemens.
With literacy rates a little under 50%, teachers are also in high demand throughout Pakistan. This is particularly true for English teachers, with most jobs requiring applicants to possess a TEFL certificate.
While it’s possible to find work in any part of the country, the most urban areas with high economic growth include Punjab, Karachi, and along the Indus River. English is a common language of business, but having some proficiency in Urdu is also useful.
How to find a job in Pakistan
Due to corruption, nepotism, political instability, and other hindering factors, finding a job in Pakistan can be a bit difficult. Most jobs are awarded based on who knows who rather than academic credits, skills, or experience. In that case, networking and word-of-mouth references are an important part of finding work in this country. Those with any professional connections should make use of them.
Requirements for working in Pakistan
Like in most countries, foreigners will need to obtain the right paperwork before they can work in Pakistan. This means getting the correct visa and work permit, which you’ll not be eligible for unless you’ve already secured a job with an employer in Pakistan.
Pakistan Average Household Income
Pakistan’s average household income per capita is recorded every year and it’s currently available from 2005 to 2016 with an average value of $479.2. It recorded a low of $290.07 in 2005 and reached an all-time high of $650.64 in 2016. Poverty in this country has fallen significantly during the last decade thanks to poverty elimination programs. Generally, Pakistan has a low Gini coefficient, which means a decent distribution of income among households. Even though there’s still a wage gap between the rich and the poor, inequality is relatively lower. The top 10% households make 27.6% of the total income, while the bottom 10% of households make only 4.1%.
Minimum Wage in Pakistan
National minimum wage (NMW) is the lowest amount of remuneration that an employee must receive for the work performed over a given period (hour/day/month/year). Several countries across the globe have set NMW in an attempt to protect workers, especially the unskilled ones, against unduly low pay. Pakistan is one of the many countries with a statutory minimum wage.
In 2011, the Ministry of Labour in Pakistan devolved its federal jurisdiction to the country’s provinces. As a result, minimum wages for all industries are no longer recommended by the Federal Minimum Wage Board but by Provincial Minimum Wage Boards. Although these recommendations are only advisory, they are regularly adopted by the provinces after they’ve been accepted by their respective governments.
The provincial governments of Sindh, Balochistan, Punjab, and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa have all set their minimum wage at 17,500 PKR ($112.63) per month from the previous value of 15,000 PKR/month. These minimum wages apply uniformly across all adult workers (whether apprentices, skilled, unskilled or home workers), as well as juvenile labour.
Some, however, still feel like this increase was insufficient, especially given the acceleration in inflation and the massive rupee depreciation.
In addition to the minimum wage, Pakistan workers are entitled to 14 days of paid annual leave, as well as paid public and religious holidays. The typical working time is 48 hours/week, 6 days a week.
In developing countries like Pakistan, where there are limited financial resources, the role of a minimum wage is to guarantee a decent lifestyle to all. Unfortunately, with the dual labour market structure of these developing economies, the effectiveness of NMW is limited. In Pakistan, minimum wages are well implemented in the formal sector, but not in the informal sectors. Even though the informal economy accounts for over 73% of employment in Pakistan, the minimum wage policy hasn’t succeeded in protecting informal workers from exploitation. They are still in under-paying, insecure jobs, living hand-to-mouth.
Average Salary in Islamabad
Islamabad is the capital city of Pakistan and home to over one million people. With several religious and cultural attractions that reflect the city’s vibrant culture and rich history, it’s easy to see why Islamabad has become a popular tourist and expat destination. It’s also known for its abundant greenery, high standards of living, safety, and a wide variety of economic opportunities for foreigners and locals alike. Before relocating to what seems like a wonderful destination, let’s see how much you can make working here. After all, you need money to fund your visit or stay in Islamabad.
The average salary in Islamabad is $570.37/month or $6,845/year, while the average hourly rate is $3.29. These figures are gross, which brings the net pay after tax and other basic deductions such as compulsory insurances to an average of $230.62 per month.
With that being said, keep in mind that people will receive varying salaries, depending on their job title, employer, qualifications, and work experience among other things. Generally, salaries in this city range between $77.20/month (minimum) to about $2,526/month (maximum). The median salary is $553.26/month, meaning half of the working population earn more than this amount while the other half earn less than $553.26/month. A good salary will depend on the kind of lifestyle one is looking to have in Pakistan, but if your salary is above the average and median salaries, you should be able to enjoy what Islamabad has to offer.
Economy and job outlook
Despite having less than 1% of the country’s population, this city contributes 1% of the total GDP. Islamabad stock exchange is one of the largest stock exchange markets in Pakistan with an average daily turnover of over a million shares. ICT is one of the main industries in this city as it hosts three software technology parks with each one having major ICT companies. There are also many state-owned and international companies here, not to mention, all the major telecom operators are headquartered here. Needless to say, expat living in Islamabad provides endless work opportunities, particularly in the telecom and services sectors.
Beyond employment, Islamabad is also the best place to start a business in Pakistan. Foreigners with entrepreneurial skills can choose to take this route rather than getting employed.
Cost Of Living in Pakistan
Pakistan has been ranked as one of the cheapest countries to live in. However, the range of costs is pretty wide depending on where an individual lives and their lifestyle among other things. Many expatriates choose to settle in more urban areas and while the overall cost of living is low, a luxurious lifestyle will come with a luxurious price tag. The most expensive cities to live in are Karachi, Faisalabad, Abbottabad, Jhang, and Turbat. Now that you know how much you can make working in this country, let’s see whether your salary can afford you a decent lifestyle.
Housing is generally cheaper; however, as Pakistani cities quickly develop into some of the most cosmopolitan cities in the world, housing costs will only go high in the years to come. You can get a one-bedroom apartment in the city centre at an average of $135/month, while a three-bedroom apartment in the same area goes for about $288/month. Buying a house is another great alternative, especially for permanent residents. In case you need to purchase a house on credit, ensure you shop around for mortgages to get the best deal possible.
Foreigners will find groceries very cheap. Common supermarket prices include:
- 1 litre of milk – $0.70
- A dozen eggs – $0.71
- A loaf of bread – $0.39
- 1kg of local cheese – $5.31
- Rice (1kg) – $0.97
- Apples (1kg) – $1.61
- Tomatoes (1kg) – $0.62
Eating out is also not a costly expense, especially at local places. A basic meal in a cheap restaurant will set you back only $1.93 while a combo-meal costs $4.18.
- Health insurance: $31.85-1,006/month, depending on the level of coverage you want.
- Gasoline: $0.73/litre
- One way ticket on local transport: $0.19
- Monthly travel pass: $6.16
- Basic utilities for an 85m2 Apartment: $62/month
- Preschool: $46.79/month/child
There are several other costs you may have to budget for depending on your needs and lifestyle. That said, the cost of living for a single expatriate with average consumption is about $124/month while that of a couple with two kids is about $460/month (no rent/mortgage payments included).
About the author: Marta Kovachek is the author of this article. She graduated from the University of Chicago with a master’s degree in Economics. Marta enjoys writing about the current economic situation and loves helping our readers to find their next "destination". From places to live to complex social and economic topics, we always enjoy Marta's work. Please contact us in case of any questions.